A North East chamber music festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary by teaming up with international classical stars.
Northern Chords, which will take place from May 20-24, brings the best young musicians from around the globe to the North East, to offer a refreshing take on classical music.
Founded by 25-year-old Gateshead born musician Jonathan Bloxham, this year’s festival will present the very best young classical talent from as far afield as Canada, Estonia, Holland, Belarus and Israel.
The 2013 line up includes stars such as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Ben Johnson and Royal Overseas League winners The Busch Ensemble, as well as BBC Young Musician of the Year winner – clarinettist Mark Simpson.
The festival will bring the international music stage to local communities around the region, including St Mary’s Church in Whickham and St Andrew’s Church in Corbridge, and all concerts will be free to attend for those aged 16 and under.
Performers will also be entertaining visitors to The Sage Gateshead with a series of free lunchtime performances on the main concourse over the course of the week.
Highlights will include Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicholas, to be performed at St. Nicholas’ Cathedral Newcastle on May 21. The piece is designed to be performed by professional musicians alongside amateur performers, and will be sung by tenor Ben Johnson and conducted by artistic director Jonathan Bloxham, with support from children’s choirs and young musicians from across the region.
Jonathan said: “As the music community is celebrating Benjamin Britten’s centenary this year, performing Britten’s work at Northern Chords 2013 will be a wonderful way of honouring this great composer, and will also highlight the message of Northern Chords – that classical music is for all.
“We’re thrilled to be honouring Britten’s intention of involving children’s choirs in the performance – especially as St Nicholas is most famous for being the patron saint of children. He was also the patron saint of travellers, which is definitely fitting, as there will be so many travellers making their way to the North East from around the world to perform this special piece.”
Further highlights include the festival’s Gala Concert at The Sage Gateshead on May 24, which will feature a world premiere by up and coming composer Freya Waley-Cohen and chamber works by Dvorak and Beethoven.
Jonathan’s musical talent was encouraged from an early age by the Gateshead Schools Music Service. He left the region at the age of 16, to study at the world-renowned Yehudi Menuhin School, followed by the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Four years later, Jonathan wanted to give something back to the region that had encouraged his talent, and Northern Chords was born.
Jonathan added: “Our artists pride themselves on energetic, exciting performances, designed specifically to appeal to all ages, and now that we’ve reached our fifth anniversary we hope that Northern Chords will continue to grow and inspire young audiences to take a serious interest in music as a career path.”
The cellist next plans to introduce a Northern Chords Education programme, to bring the very best young professional musicians in the world to work on side-by-side projects with aspiring performers in his home town of Gateshead.
Northern Chords is grateful for the continuing support of the Travel Bureau, Hilton Hotel and Central High School Newcastle, and is proud to announce new partnerships with the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and the Friends of the Gateshead Youth Orchestra.
For more information about the festival or to book tickets, visit: www.northernchords.com or call The Sage Gateshead Box Office on 0191 443 4661.